Archive for June, 2007

Click Here For More Information – Bad Text Links – SEO Tip Week 26

Friday, June 29th, 2007

If you have been following this blog or looking into SEO you know how very important building links can be to your site’s success in the search engine rankings. Link building involves two types of links: Links pointing to your site (external linking), and links on your site pointing to other pages of your site (internal linking). While we don’t always have the ability to control external linking, a poorly worded internal link is inexcusable. The single, easiest and least low effort thing to remember is to make your links descriptive. If that is too much to remember, then just remember this, no links should be labeled “click here,” “more information,” “read more” or any other variation of these words.

I realize this might bring disagreement from the user experience community but I think we can all agree that your average user doesn’t need to be told to click a link and if it isn’t obviously a link (underlined) you have bigger problems on your site with usability.

Every time I see a “click here” link I shake my head at the wasted link opportunity that is being lost. You probably know how powerful link text can be in helping your rankings so it shouldn’t be a surprise to find that the site that ranks for the term “click here” doesn’t even have those words within the text of the page that is ranking for “click here”. Care to guess what company’s site is ranking for it?

I’ll give you a hint; you’ve most likely downloaded the application and probably more than once. The site, or page actually, ranked number one for the term “click here”is the Acrobat Reader download page. Make sense? This clue might help: Click here to download Acrobat Reader. This proves the power of the text in your link, so why waste it with a non-descriptive textual link?

I can provide thousands of examples, but let’s look at a few examples where a descriptive text link would be much better.

Early Detection Key to Preventing Vision Loss from Glaucoma More than 2 million Americans over the age of 40 have glaucoma, but many of those living with the disease don’t even know it. – Find out more HERE

Instead, remove the “Find out more HERE” and place the link on the headline text and best of all it doesn’t require any rewriting:

Early Detection Key to Preventing Vision Loss from Glaucoma
More than 2 million Americans over the age of 40 have glaucoma, but many of those living with the disease don’t even know it.

  • Apple’s iPhone Page
    Being the huge Apple fan that I am it pains me to point to them as a bad example, but the new iPhone page is just that, a bad example. On this page I count five “read more” links and one “learn more”. It can be argued that Apple doesn’t need SEO help for the iPhone, but the principal and lost opportunity still applies.
  • Joint Commission Home Page
    I count five “read more” links, incredibly listed below descriptive titles without a link. What better way to get listing for their top stories than linking to them with keywords in the story? Placing the link on the headline would solve this, much like we suggested for the Prevent Blindness site.
  • Burst Media Contact Page
    One of the more ridiculous offenders of the “click here” mistake.

Making simple changes would have helped all of these sites make better use of their internal linking as well as helped with their site’s ranking for the words in the link.

Of course, going beyond the decision to not use useless text links and thinking about the best keywords and phrases to use will help even more. A few seconds, or better yet, a few minutes applied to thinking about your internal, contextual linking can bring in great rewards. Take the time and…Think before you Link!

SEO Titles, Using the Title Tag – SEO Tip Week 25

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

52 SEO TipsPage titles are one of the most important parts of any web page, especially when performing search engine optimization. A page title is located at the very top of your browser’s window. It can bring traffic in abundance or completely isolate your site. Knowing how to properly word a page title is critical to your site’s SEO success. Let’s look at how page titles can be used to increase your site’s traffic.

Snowflakes and Titles
It is said no two snowflakes look exactly the same. Well, the same should be said for page titles on your site.

Every page on your site should have a different focus from the other pages on your site, or you are repeating yourself and duplicating content. So if all your pages are telling a different story, shouldn’t they all have a different title? And that title should effectively reflect the content of the page.

Missing an Opportunity
In my daily web searches, I see many missed opportunities with poorly titled web pages. Pages simply named “Untitled” or “Untitled Document” can be found in the millions (79 million were found in a Google search). Search engines depend on titles to gather information about your web pages. And a page title without a unique description does not help the search engines – in fact, a generic page title makes the page nearly impossible to find…

Putting Your Company Name in the Title Tag
I’m not against putting your company name in your page title – after all, it will help build brand awareness. But, I am against putting only your company name in the title and until you become a household name, I would suggest putting your company name at the end of your title. The focus of your web pages should be on what people would search for to find your company. In other words you want targeted keyword phrases in the title. Let me give an example:

If your company name is “Miller & Sons” and you sell fishing equipment near Whitefish, Montana you should not limit your title to “Miller & Sons”. Instead try “Fishing Rods & Reels in Whitefish, Montana – Miller & Sons“. With this you are netting traffic searching for your product, your location and your company name. Keeping the location in the name is very important if you are serving only a regional or local market.

Let Your Copy Be Your Guide
When deciding on your page titles, read the page first and let that guide your decision. If you can’t confine the theme of your page copy into a concise page title, you may need to break the copy into more than one page.

If you sell toys on your site, your page copy should have the keyword “toys” and so should your page title. Even better it should include what type of toys. Do you sell dog toys? Cat toys? Children’s toys? Your title should convey this. Adding in other possible search terms is also a good idea. An example of a toy site home page title could be “Children’s toys and games – toys for boys and girls of all ages” You have your most important keyword, “toys,” listed twice and have added some other important keywords such as “games,” “boy” and “girl.”

Suppose one of the sub pages of your toy site showcases Leap Frog’s Discovery Ball. What type of toy is this? It’s an educational toy and you should use that in your title along with the actual toy name. This gives you an opportunity to be found in the search results for the toy name, the popular toy company and the heavily searched key phrase “educational toy.” A title catering towards SEO for this example would be: “Leap Frog Discovery Ball – Educational Toys“. Since the more targeted term is the name of the toy you put that first. Educational Toys would be shown first on a category page.

Now that you have integrated your keyword phrases from your page copy into your title, you’ll find that getting found in the search engines is a much easier task.

Underscores vs. Dashes – SEO Tip

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Update 6/10/09 – Video from Matt Cutts about the underscore vs. Dashes issue.

Spaces should never be used in a URL or file names because the space character gets translated to “%20″ by the browser, and this can wreak havoc with both readability and statistics or analytics programs. The question then remains, which is better to use instead of spaces, underscores “_” or dashes “-”.

As far as Google is concerned Big_Oak consists of one word, “Big_Oak”, and Big-Oak consists of two words, “Big” and “Oak”.

The reason Google does not treat the underscore as a word separator is because Google was created by programmers who knew that programmers often wanted to search about programming. Many computer programming languages use the underscore character in such ways that CLASS is different from _CLASS.

Because of this, I always recommend using dashes instead of underscores in your filenames and URLs. Be careful not to use too many dashes in your domain name, as that could get your site flagged for other reasons. I prefer to have a domain name with no dashes, and to use dashes where appropriate in the directory and file structure.

Example URL:
http://www.bigoakinc.com/blog/category/52-seo-strategies/

Other things about Google to keep in mind when choosing filenames and URL structure.

  • There is no difference between lower-case and upper-case:
    big oak, Big Oak, BIG OAK, and biG Oak are all the same.
  • The ampersand “&” is a word seperator:
    Big&Oak is treated as two words.
  • Singular words are not the same as plural words:
    oak and oaks are treated as different words.
  • Google cannot read words that are within other words:
    bubble will not be seen inside of bubblegum.

As with any tip, keep in mind that it’s a combination of many factors which will ultimately decide your placement in the search engine rankings and quite often every little bit counts.

Update: A Test

I created a test page to illustrate how Google reads words.

Examples:

A search for Test_travveran shows the sample page.

A search for Flibstopper Test shows the sample page. The two words are even highlighted in the URL. The word “test” appears in the page title.

A search for travveran shows no results in Google. Google did not read my made-up word from the URL or content because it only appeared in phrases with underscores.

A site search for choosing colors shows all the pages in our Out on a Limb section because those two words appear in the navigation on all pages.

A site search for “choosing colors” (in quotes) shows no pages because those two words do not appear together in our site, choosing_colors on the test page is treated as a single word.

A site search for “the blue pill” (in quotes) shows our test page since dashes are treated as word separators.

A site search for “bush seo” (in quotes) shows our test page since the ampersand “&” also acts as a word separator.

Similarly Google can find the page with reality tv and bubblegum, but it cannot find the page with bubble or 1971.

Even though many of the stranger examples have little relevance to SEO, it’s a good idea to understand how Google reads and understands words.

Keep Current on SEO Techniques – SEO Tip Week 23

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Obviously one of the most important parts of an SEO Company’s success is keeping up with the new trends, latest techniques and search engine news. The best way to do that is to read the best SEO blogs out there. I have listed some in my blogroll to the right. I hold them all in high esteem, and of course, I would recommend reading my own SEO blog.

SEO Forums
Keeping up to date with SEO forum browsing is also a good idea. Here are some of my favorites:

  • http://www.webworkshop.net/seoforum/
  • http://forums.seochat.com/
  • http://www.highrankings.com/forum/
  • http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/
  • http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/
  • http://www.seo-guy.com/forum/

Search Marketing Standard MagazineSearch Marketing Standard Magazine
I have recently discovered something almost unheard of in the Internet world, a printed magazine that still has relevance. It is Search Marketing Standard. I read my first issue this month and was impressed with the wealth of information and the breadth of subjects covered.

As an avid researcher and online reader it is refreshing to sit away from my desk, or outside, or at my home, or anyplace other than my office, and read a printed document. There is something comforting even in the this digital age about holding a glossy magazine and flipping casually through the pages. I even looked at the advertisements, something we have trained our eyes to avoid online.

Looking at a colorful magazine is one thing, finding it useful and informative is quite another. Search Marketing Standard did a nice job in both areas.

Search Marketing Standard (SMS)

The issue of Search Engine Marketing Standard that I read (picture to the right) covered many topics in the search engine marketing arena. Of course they had articles about search engine optimization and search engine marketing, but they also gave commentary about social media marketing, SEO certification and a few other gems, including blogging and linkbaiting.

One of the most useful items in this issue was a very informative listing of SEM training courses and certification. I would have like to have seen a review of each course, but that could be very subjective, time-consuming and costly so I can understand the omission.

I also felt a nice job was done bridging the sometimes enormous gap between beginners and professionals in the SEO industry. It is something I try to do on this blog so I was pleased seeing SMS attempt this as well.

SMS also realizes a magazine without a website is a missed opportunity, so they have built a companion site. While you can’t read the published articles (why would you subscribe if you could?) they certainly don’t withhold information about the SEO tips and advice. The site is a useful tool for research with helpful blog posts.

Yearly subscription to the magazine starts at just $15 for 1 year/4 issues for US-based readers and $20 for international subscribers (shipping included). Click Here to subscribe today, I recommend it.

Keep Fresh Content on Your Homepage – SEO Tip Week 22

Friday, June 1st, 2007

52 SEO TipsAdding fresh content to your site and your homepage is an often heard bit of advice from SEO consultants and advice columns. Yes, It is a good idea to keep your content up-to-date and fresh, but using information that isn’t pertinent to your site such as a weather feed or generalized information you can find on a host of other sites, it isn’t likely to draw much attention from the search engines. You need something more substantial and more on topic with your site.

Look for content that speaks to your audience. For example, maybe you own an SEO company and adding new content to your home page looks like a good idea. Well, if you write a blog on a consistent basis then your own blog posts can become homepage content through an RSS feed. As a matter of fact we have implemented this very tactic today on our own home page. If you look at the Big Oak homepage you will see an area that is displaying an RSS feed of this blog (SEO Blog) with a snippet from the two most recent blog posts. Now we have content that will change whenever this SEO blog is updated and most of the time the posts will be on topic. The search engines will notice my home page changes frequently and visit more often and give our site a higher value because of this.

If you aren’t an avid blogger, you can add content from other blogs or from search result and news feeds, but this can draw traffic from your site if your visitors follow links included in the third-party feeds.

Problems can occur as fresh content can cause your rankings to change based on the content displayed, but these fluctuations are usually minor and the benefits outweigh the negatives. Keeping a watch on your fresh content should be part of your strategy.

Be creative and think about what content would be of use to your visitors. Think about adding new products to the homepage or specials that change frequently. The key is to stay vigilant and automation is good answer. RSS feeds are a great way to do this and many shopping carts have the option to provide an RSS feed. Other ideas are writing tips, maybe 52 Industry tips in advance, that change out weekly. They don’t have to link anywhere and can simply be placed on the home page every Monday and so on. It is important to make it fun and easy, otherwise it will become a struggle especially if you are trying to provide the content yourself rather than displaying content from other sites or feeds. Be sure to get permission if you aren’t sure about copyright issues when using the content from other sites.

Please pass along any ideas you have for keep your homepage fresh with relative content.

Panoramio – Map Your Photos

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Google will purchase Panoramio, a very cool site with interesting functionality. Not an SEO tool, but a tool for your life if you like taking photos on vacation. Of course since Google is going to buy it, that makes is somewhat SEO-worthy.

Panoramio allows you to locate photos exactly over the place they were taken. You can read more about how this works.

From Google: Panoramio is a community photos website that enables digital photographers to geo-locate, store and organize their photographs — and to view those photographs in Google Earth. Other users can search and browse Panoramio photos and suggest edits to the metadata associated with the photos. Panoramio also offers an API that enables web developers to embed Panoramio functionality into their websites.

Your vacation photos will never be the same.

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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